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S n ow Barefoot again. That’s how local hiker Sandii Mellen prefers her feet – free, which could happen more often with warmer temperatures. At right, Mellen stands in Glacier National Park, where the namesake Montana glaciers are melting. PHOTOS BY SANDII MELLEN

2 degrees H

Mountain, atop the Continental Divide in Colorado. “My brother and I skied the first powder run of our lives,” he later wrote. “It was on a gentle slope just off one of the main trails. We wiggled down the hill in chaotic rapture, then skied the run again and again. The snow was soft and the turns effortless.” Through high school, Fox worked at his dad’s boatyard on Mount Desert Island to finance his next ski pass. In college, he sold passes for Vermont’s Mad River Glen in exchange for his own. When graduation came, he headed West. To ski. That’s how Fox ended up in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and four years later on the staff of Powder magazine, where he’s been a writer and editor ever since. Over the years, he has skied at the magazine’s behest on snow stained pink by grains of Saharan Desert sand in the mountains of Morocco, on the lightest snow on Earth on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, in the hardpack of Baja, Mexico, and down the steep couloirs of southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains. But it was back in the American West, while skiing in his beloved Jackson Hole, that Fox first talked with other skiers about climate

uman beings have never lived on a planet that was 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was before they began powering civilization with fossil fuels. Pass that 2-degree threshold and life on Earth will fundamentally change, the scientists say. It’s not newfound knowledge, though. Yale economist William Nordhaus suggested the 2-degree tipping point in 1977 in a paper called “Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem.” He remains an ardent advocate for action to stop climate change. Since the Industrial Revolution, the climate has warmed 0.85 degrees Celsius, and is locked in to reach 1.5 degrees “even with very ambitious action,” according to a 2014 World Bank report. The emissions are already in the atmosphere. PricewaterhouseCoopers gives Earth a 50-50 chance of limiting the warmup to below 2 degrees if “decarbonization” efforts accelerate to six times the current rate. Continue burning fossil fuels at the current rate, and the 2-degree threshold will be reached by mid-century. Continue even then, and temperatures warm by 3 to 5 degrees by 2100. And many scientists, including those at NASA and NOAA, believe a 2-degree warm-up will set in motion natural processes that cannot be stopped – and that themselves will hasten the warming. The most likely is the melting of the permafrost in Arctic The methane from thawing Canada, said Nordhaus. As the permafrost melts, the methane permafrost amplifies existing it trapped over the millennia will atmospheric warming due to be released into the atmosphere, human activities. SOURCE: UNEP warming the planet more than REPORT “POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF human beings ever could.

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–Sherry Devlin

WARMING PERMAFROST”

SANDPOINT MAGAZINE

83

10/25/16 9:10 AM

Issuu smw17  

In this issue: Wings of Winter, Future of snow, NFL Super Bowl Champion Ron Heller, Art of Megan Atwood Cherry, Urban Moose, Thrill of shed...

Issuu smw17  

In this issue: Wings of Winter, Future of snow, NFL Super Bowl Champion Ron Heller, Art of Megan Atwood Cherry, Urban Moose, Thrill of shed...